Konica Minolta to debut IT advances at RSNA 2016

In the ongoing effort to improve its solutions with customer input, Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas will be showcasing new features in the Exa™ Platform that enhance patient engagement, referring provider satisfaction and imaging workflow productivity.

Visit the Konica Minolta booth, 1919, to learn more about these new features of the Exa platform:

  • Payment option for patients who wish to pay their out-of-pocket imaging invoices online, via patient portal;
  • Quick-confirm via drivers' license scanner for front-end staff that confirms the information or flags discrepancies in patient-registration information; and
  • Integration of application programming interfaces (API), the familiar term in the “language of the Internet” for radiology practice managers who want their legacy imaging-related technologies to communicate with one another, regardless of manufacturer.

These features and several more are now available as part of the Exa enterprise-imaging platform developed by Konica Minolta to enhance its healthcare IT capabilities.

The Exa Platform provides the infrastructure for managing data across the imaging workflow. It integrates imaging IT systems with the EHR, incorporating a zero-footprint viewer and a real-time performance dashboard to optimize ease of use and workflow management.

Steve Deaton, Konica Minolta’s VP of Healthcare IT, says he’s looking forward to RSNA 2016 as a chance to speak about Exa and all the company’s offerings with healthcare providers who have caught up with the information revolution.

“The exciting part about serving an informed market today is that we don’t educate customers as much as we used to on IT,” he says. “They now know what software is and isn’t, what it can and can’t do. Users know what they like and don’t like about their current systems. And they know when they’re presented with a substantial value proposition.”

Patient-centric perks

With value being top of mind across U.S. healthcare, Deaton expects Exa and its constituent components to have greater appeal than in the past among providers looking to grow their outpatient business. For them, he says, the PayPal and information validating features exemplify Konica Minolta’s focus on adding value to Exa.

“In a primary care office, the patient’s out-of-pocket expense might be $10 or $20. But for imaging it can be in the hundreds of dollars,” Deaton says. “It’s important that those payments are easy and convenient for the patient, or the provider may not get paid in a timely manner.”

The electronic patient registration quick confirm feature, which scans the patient’s driver’s license to compare it to the patient’s demographic data stored in the system, also has as twin objectives the patient’s experience and the provider’s bottom line.

“What we want to do is take away the human-error factor,” Deaton says. “Electronic demographic confirmation can enhance the billing experience and reduce the number of claims being rejected for trivial reasons like misspelled names and incorrect zip codes.”

Enterprise imaging: platform-wide or module-by-module

The Exa Platform, which includes PACS, RIS and Mammo, will be available for demonstration at RSNA. Attentive booth visitors who take a “test drive” will readily spot how Exa has been designed with enterprise imaging in mind, Deaton says.

“With everything moving toward enterprise imaging, people want a great cardiology viewer, they want a great mammography viewer, they want a great PET viewer,” he says. “But they want to get away from having to go to dedicated workstations for different types of subspecialty viewing.”

The Exa Platform can supply such users with anywhere, anytime access to any medical image, either with adoption of the entire platform or with select, modular additions to their existing systems.

“We are able to attach, for example, a small server to their existing VNA or PACS archive, and then all their workstations can provide 3D mammography viewing anywhere, or PET or cardio or whatever they’d like to do,” says Deaton. “Exa is, by design, modular for the enterprise imaging space.”

Scalable, flexible and fast  

Much of Konica Minolta’s innovation in this area owes to its recognition that providers of different sizes have different needs, capabilities and resources—yet many if not most stand to benefit from use of Exa technology. Thrifty outpatient imaging centers might pick just the patient portal with the payment option, while hospitals with resources to take the long view would do well to consider the full Exa Platform, Deaton suggests. 

Flexibility and scalability to serve disparately sized providers: that’s where the application programming interfaces come in.

APIs allow different software systems to communicate using “web services” that run through the Internet via HTTP using standardized extensible markup language (XML) messaging. This is the technology that lets Trivago quickly find hotel rates from all those competing hotels for you.

It also lets your zero-footprint viewer show you imaging data rendered on a remote server in less than two seconds.

“We built the whole Exa Platform with APIs that can connect all our customers’ imaging IT systems,” says Deaton, adding that APIs are displacing HL7 as the ideal means of integrating these systems. “Some of our customers are heavily invested in legacy systems. We want them and all our customers to be able to easily integrate Exa with whatever systems they’re using, so that the value is there and the cost savings are real.”

Deaton says his team finds it personally rewarding to see Konica Minolta customers using Exa technology to improve care quality while saving money and streamlining workflow.

“Since we are in the replacement market, we’re often not the first RIS for someone or the first mammo or the first patient portal for someone,” he says. “Healthcare’s heightened focus on value lets us show those providers how they can cost-effectively add IT features that greatly improve the practice so the practice can better serve the patient.” 

Making a difference

Asked for a real-world example of such practice improvement in action, Deaton described a hospital in Pennsylvania that has been using several different software platforms to cover cardiology, mammography, PACS and rad-report dictation. The 100-bed hospital recently called in Konica Minolta to replace all those systems with a single integrated Exa solution.

One happy result: Cardiologists who have been driving across town twice a day to read echocardiography, ultrasound and nuclear medicine studies on a legacy vendor’s systems will soon be reading all those studies from their offices.

Those cardiologists are about to get a big boost in workflow efficiency. Their patients are about to get better care. And that hospital’s bottom line is about to get a lot healthier.

“They’re going to be saving $86,000 a year from what they were spending just on ownership costs of their legacy system,” Deaton says. “For hospital of that size, $86,000 a year is substantial. They can now buy a new ultrasound scanner or X-ray room.”

On that note, Deaton underscores that RSNA 2016 finds Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas nicely positioned to help U.S. healthcare improve care delivery while reducing costs and optimizing the patient experience.

“We’re always looking at things from a new perspective,” he says. “That’s what always excites us and keeps us motivated. But this is definitely a new and interesting time for us.”

Editor’s note: Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas will also showcase some new products at RSNA 2016. Look for the company’s first-of-its-kind U-arm digital radiography system, now known as the KDR™ AU Advanced U-Arm System, as well as SONIMAGE® HS1, a compact, hand-carried ultrasound system that acquires best-in-class images for musculoskeletal and other exams.